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Could anti-price gouging laws slow rising rents in California?

California lawmakers are exploring new ways to limit skyrocketing rents.

Crooning in the shower is not Chad Regeczi’s thing.

That’s why when he learned last year his monthly rent would go up $300 so the new owners of his La Mesa apartment in San Diego County could upgrade his bathroom with a sound system, he was bemused.

“300 bucks!” he said. “I mean an iPod costs less than that. Everybody has got a phone now. Who needs a Bluetooth speaker in a bathroom apartment? It’s just weird.”

Regeczi, a VA employee, said the 30 percent rent increase didn’t match the condition of his apartment. But he felt powerless to challenge his landlords on the hike.

“Who’s gonna tell them no?” he asked. “There are no rules to how much your rent can go up.”

That may change. Talk is underway about putting a law on the books that would bar California landlords from raising rent beyond a certain percentage.

Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf said in November the rule would mimic limits on what businesses can charge during natural disasters.

“When there’s a fire, you pass an anti-rent gouging ordinance,” Schaaf said. “The state has a fire. It’s called the housing crisis.”

Rents are surging in some California cities where there is no rent control by double, even triple digits, according to mayors and tenants rights advocates.

And more than half of the state’s renters pay more than a third of their income on housing, according to the California Budget & Policy Center. And a third of renters spend more than half of their paycheck on a place to live. The real estate firm Zillow reported last month that communities where people pay more than a third of their salary on rent, see a faster rise in homelessness.

 

Read more on East Bay Times

 

 

Apartment rents expected to rise faster than inflation in 2019

Rents are likely to rise the most for class-B apartments, and the least for class-C and -D units.
Rents are likely to rise faster for older, class-B apartments in 2019 than for any other class of apartment property.“We expect Class-B to continue to have the strongest average rent growth, as it has through recent history,” says Andrew Rybczynski, senior consultant at research firm the CoStar Group.

“While occupancy is sky high in class-C product, rent growth in that sector is beginning to slow a little,” says Ron Willett, chief economist for MPF Research, a RealPage company.

 

 

 

Read more at National Real Estate Investor

 

 

 

 

Lucca Ravioli Co.’s parking lot sold — five-story tower may rise

Lucca Ravioli Company’s parking lot at 22nd and Valencia Street, which went on the market in August, quietly sold in October for around $3 million — and now plans are in the works to develop it into a five-story residential building.

The parking lot’s new owner — M3 LLC — filed a preliminary application with the city in mid-December. The plans for 1120 Valencia Street envision a five-story, 18-unit building with around 1,171 square feet of ground-floor retail and a rooftop deck. Two of the units will be below-market-rate, and the building will include 18 bicycle spaces but no car parking.

The project’s estimated cost is $4.8 million.

The owner of M3 LLC could not be reached for comment, as his or her identity could not be confirmed. Planning documents list the owner’s address as the Garaventa Accountancy Corporation on Church Street.

 

 

Read more on Mission Local 

 

 

Trump is getting involved in Opportunity Zones, and experts think that’s a good thing

Opportunity zones have become the darling of real estate investors since their adoption last year, but the still-under-the-radar program is poised to receive a lot more attention, and possibly scrutiny after it was promoted in the Oval Office last week.

President Donald Trump’s signing of an executive order to push more federal resources into the Opportunity Zone program is a step in the right direction and could bolster the little-known tax incentive program and the distressed communities that benefit from investments, experts said.

“I think investors in the marketplace are going to be excited that there are going to be a number of new federal benefits aligned to these zones,” Develop founder Steve Glickman said.

Glickman is a former Obama administration official and one of the original architects of the Opportunity Zone program, which was enacted as part of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017.

“Frankly, these zones need a lot more than private capital,” Glickman said. “They need infrastructure investment, they need to deal with crime, workforce training, and other strategies and dollars. Opportunity zones were always meant to stimulate that kind of holistic activity not just on a federal level, but on a state and local level.”

Erik Marks, a Seattle-based commercial real estate attorney and founder of Opportunity-Funds.com, a website that tracks opportunity zone funds and designated areas, said the executive order still does not address the current shortcomings and problems that are present from people trying to do opportunity zone deals now.

“I think the regulation may be useful, but this is not a problem-solving regulation,” Marks said. “I don’t know what his strategy is, but I think when there are opportunity zone successes, he has a clear opportunity to put himself and his Cabinet at the locations for the photo opportunity. I don’t mean to say that in a derogatory sense … This is to make sure [everyone knows] he’s still part of it.”

For the past year, the at-first unheralded Opportunity Zone program, passed last year as part of Trump’s $1.5 trillion Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, has flown under the mainstream radar.

The program’s goal is to generate economic development in the form of the redevelopment or the development of market-rate housing, affordable housing, new offices, retail buildings and businesses in these communities.

 

 

Read more on Bisnow

 

 

Looking to invest in Qualified Opportunity Zones? These resources may help

As investors across the nation seek to deploy billions of dollars in capital gains into Qualified Opportunity Zones, they are actively seeking guidance about the program and on the hunt for resources to help identify neighborhoods, assets and available land within opportunity zones most ripe for investment. 

The program, created through the passing of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act last year, aims to incentivize private investment in underserved and otherwise blighted communities across the U.S. in exchange for a hefty tax break.

More than 8,700 census tracts have been classified as opportunity zones and numerous opportunity zones funds have already launched to take advantage of the program — with an estimated $6 trillion in unrealized capital gains eligible to be deployed into opportunity zones, according to a study conducted by Real Capital Analytics.

In response to high demand from firms and high net worth individuals interested in the opportunity zones program, a number of tools have come to market to help potential investors understand how the program works, identify neighborhoods that qualify for it and locate assets within the designated areas in need of investment.

“Opportunity zones have brought national attention to areas of the country that have been too often looked over for investment. Unlike traditional community development institutions, knowledge and understanding about these communities is quite limited,” Smart Growth Americas Vice President of Land Use and Development Christopher Coes told Bisnow. Coes is also director of national real estate developer and investor network LOCUS.

“The structure of the opportunity zones tax incentive places the onus on the investor to identify and conduct due diligence … which requires an understanding of not only the project but also the place. Because of this demand, we’re seeing a lot of tools [come to market] to help assist investors and policymakers.”

Read more on Bisnow

 

 

New 155K SF Affordable Housing Project Planned Near S.F.’s Balboa Park BART Station

A new development that will bring more affordable housing to San Francisco is underway next to the Balboa Park BART station.

The 155K SF transit-oriented development, Balboa Park Upper Yard, will deliver up to 120 units of low- and very-low-income housing in a mixed-use project that will have community-serving space. There will be open space on a connected piece of property owned by BART.

The project from neighborhood nonprofit Mission Housing Development Corp. and developer Related California is in the design phase, and construction could start in late 2019 or early 2020. Mithun is the project architect.

Projects such as this one help Mission Housing better serve residents, particularly low-income Latino residents who have been displaced from one district of San Francisco into another, according to the organization. As it has watched residents pushed out of the city’s District 9 in the Mission District, Mission Housing has been looking at expanding into the Excelsior area in District 11 where those residents are moving, and eventually the entire west side of San Francisco.

“We are thrilled to have been given the opportunity to deliver more high quality, affordable housing to District 11,” Mission Housing Executive Director Sam Moss said in a statement. Mission Housing owns or manages 38 housing properties and is one of the area’s largest nonprofit housing organizations. “The community outreach, planning, design, financing, and construction will lead to delivering the excellent affordable housing and community services hub which the people of San Francisco deserve.”

The creation of 100% affordable housing is the biggest tool available to combat gentrification, Mission Housing officials said. They said the new site is expected to benefit from a piece of legislation now in progress for a citywide neighborhood preference that would make 45% of units specifically designated for families that currently live near the project.

 

Read more on Bisnow San Francisco

 

 

Report: U.S. Commercial Real Estate Pricing Growth Cools in Late 2018

Growth in U.S. commercial property prices decelerated in October to the slowest annual pace in 2018 so far, according to a new report by Real Capital Analytics.

The company’s U.S. National All-Property Index was up 6.4% from a year ago. The pace of annual price growth has been gradually slowing since a 2018 high of 8.4% in February, but in fact, price growth as measured by annual gains has been slowing down for about three years, RCA reports.

Year-over-year gains in 2014 and early 2015 were well over 10% each month for all assets, which represented a strong comeback from the recession, when property prices during much of 2009 contracted by over 20% compared with a year earlier. Since mid-2015, annual gains have slowed considerably.

According to the report, easing growth in major U.S. metros placed the largest drag on national prices, presumably as investors perceive that prices in some major markets have bubble-like aspects. For the purpose of the report, major metros include Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, New York, San Francisco and Washington, D.C.

Prices in U.S. major metros were growing an average 8.8% year over year at the beginning of 2018, but as of October, that growth was down to 3.1%.

Growth in the non-major metros has also slowed since a high in the summer, though the change is more modest than in the major metros, RCA reports. Prices rose 7.8% year over year in non-major metros in October, down from 8.4% in May.

Apartments are still leading the way in price growth, up 9.6% year over year, but even that property type has seen a slowdown. In April, the annual gain for apartments was 12.4%.

 

Read more on Bisnow

 

 

 

How the stock market’s wild ride could affect CRE investment

Stock market volatility may spur investors to allocate more funds to direct ownership of real estate.

The stock market’s recent rollercoaster, with October’s sharp correction followed by a post-midterm election surge, can put the investment community on edge, including commercial real estate investors.

“People who invest in real estate don’t invest in a vacuum,” says Mark Dotzour, a real estate economist who spent 18 years as chief economist of the Real Estate Center at Texas A&M University before opening a private consultancy three years ago.

It’s impossible to completely separate one’s emotional reactions from financial behavior, says Mike Ervolini, CEO of Cabot Investment Technology, which sells behavioral finance software to professional equity fund managers. Ervolini previously served as a portfolio manager and CIO with AEW Capital Management.

Real estate investors pay close attention to what’s happening in the stock and bond markets and while they may be able to overlook recent volatility, they’ll need to keep an eye on longer-term trends to determine if commercial real estate investment is still the best bet for their financial portfolios, according to Dotzour. For now, it seems the answer is yes.

 

 

Read more on National Real Estate Investor

 

 

Are food halls a magic elixir for retail owners?

The concept of the food hall has taken deep root in U.S. retail properties, with scores up and running and hundreds in the pipeline.

Though a popular addition for struggling retail properties, celebrity chef Todd English said that without the right approach, food halls are not always the solution for owners. English spoke at the recent Second Annual International Council of Shopping Centers-Baruch College Real Estate Conference, as reported by Real Estate Weekly.

He warned that some food halls are merely “glorified food courts with better options.” He further called food halls a WeWork model, a kind of coworking space that “has to be about more than just food.”

Food halls are a draw because of their perceived authenticity, as local eateries, healthier options and craft breweries edge out standard food court fare (fast food, that is).

While not every food hall is going to feature chef-curated or otherwise expensive options, they have to be creative in some way, English said during the ICSC conference. “It’s not just another great turkey sandwich or croissant, or whatever the latest trend is, it’s something that brings people in.”

For retailers, a successful food hall is thus not a matter of simply setting up a food hall. With the increasing number of food halls, they too need to stand out to be competitive.

 

 

Read more on Bisnow

 

Identifying lucrative value-add multifamily opportunities as the cycle lengthens

There are ways to drive returns on value-add multifamily investments without spending a fortune on redevelopment.

The appetite for value-add multifamily investments remains strong—and in light of this increasing competition, many investors are struggling to identify and secure assets that present high-reward opportunities.

While some investors have turned to extreme measures, including taking on projects that require extensive remediation and complete overhauls—or even repurposing entirely different product types for multifamily use—some of the greatest opportunities for growth and stability lie in strategically identifying and refreshing functional, yet under-managed vintage communities.

 

 

Read more on National Real Estate Investor